I said it just this an hour ago when the ASICS GEL-LYTE III CM 1.95 was launched, but it really feels like I'm writing about sustainable footwear on a daily basis. The latest sports manufacturer to join the illustrious group of Nike, Adidas and ASICS is ON Running, who today launched the Cloudprime running shoes, which are made from carbon emissions.
Yes, made from, as the Cloudprime's CleanCloud EVA foam uses carbon emissions as a raw material. It sounds crazy – it is crazy – but so are On's ambitions (in a good way): the brand envisions a future where every On product is fossil-free and fully circular. And On tries to achieve this by collaborating with partners instead of trying to power through on its own, which is probably better in terms of timescales.
Said companies include LanzaTech, Borealis and Technip Energies, but instead of telling you what each company brings to the table, I'll let On Running summarise the process in two paragraphs:
"Technology from LanzaTech captures carbon monoxide emitted from industrial sources like steel mills before being released into the atmosphere. Once captured, these emissions enter a patented fermentation process. Thanks to specially selected and naturally occurring bacteria, the carbon-rich gas ferments naturally and is converted to ethanol. This natural fermentation process is similar to that of conventional alcohol production – e.g., beer brewing."
"The ethanol is then dehydrated to create ethylene by Technip Energies, which is then polymerized by Borealis to become EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) in a form of solid small plastic pellets – the versatile and lightweight material that On starts working with to create a performance foam for shoes."
On is collaborating with circular start-up Novoloop on the CleanCloud outsole by utilising the world’s first chemically upcycled TPU from post-consumer plastic waste. The outsole was put under rigorous lab and athlete testing, meeting specifications comparable to fossil-derived TPUs with a significant carbon footprint reduction. For the upper, On is collaborating with the young French start-up Fairbrics to create a polyester-based textile made from carbon emissions.
As you can tell, Cloudprime is anything but ordinary. There is hope that these running shoes will help pave the way to a more sustainable and circular future, not just for On but the running shoe industry as a whole. Until we can put on a pair of Cloudprime, there is always the On Cloudmonster, one of the best running shoes out there, to use and enjoy.